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Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Truth of War

Dear Mr. President,
“I ended the war in Iraq.” You’ve made that claim many times but what’s missing from that boast are two key words at the end: “for us,” for the war we started continues to rage for Iraqis. Now, with the fall of Fallujah, Iraq is back on the front page of the NYT (“Fallujah’s Fall Stuns Marines Who Fought There” Jan. 10). Vets who fought there are divided into those who blame you for not keeping troops there and those who blame Bush for getting us into a dubious war in the first place. But no matter which side you’re on, the truth of that war—and all wars—is made manifest in the statement of James Cathcart, an ex-Marine who fought there in 2004: “Lives were wasted and now everyone back home sees that.” You called Iraq a dumb war and opposed it as a presidential candidate, but Robert Gates’ new book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” reveals that your opposition was political, not moral, that you and Hilary both opposed Bush’s surge in Iraq only for political gain during the 2008 presidential primary campaign. The book also reveals that, as president, you opened a March 2011 meeting at the White House by “expressing doubts about Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander he had chosen, and questioning whether he could do business with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his…” And yet three years later the only thing changed is the military commander in Afghanistan. The war grinds on, lives are destroyed, hatreds grow, billions are wasted and only the merchants of death profit. What becomes clear is the immorality of politicians like you, those who send others into combat, who use war as a political tool to gain and maintain power. The cynicism and hypocrisy of you and Hilary sharing admissions that your opposition to war was purely political is so evil and so disgusting, that people everywhere should rise up and put an end to war. All wars are political, based on delusion, lies, and greed. The problem is that politicians have no skin in the game. In the words of Herbert Gold in his review of “The Deserters” by Charles Glass, they send young boys with “unripe hearts” to fight and die in wars promoted by false myths that glorify the sacrifice and courage of the young warrior, then ignore them when they return broken and shattered. No one wins in war and that is the real truth of war.

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